Only so much swamp gas

In response to some inquiries about the derivation of the name Foolish Fire, I will now provide some enlightenment…It’s basically about swamp gas, folks. That’s it. Pretty sexy, yes?

Evidently electrical charges mixed with methane gas rising from your average swamp can create a twinkling lights affect or “foolish fire” that according to legend, compel some folks to enter the swamp seeking the source of the lights never to be heard from….a-gain.

Another source defines Foolish Fire as…”a wide variety of spectral lights, whose alleged purpose is either to herald death or to play tricks on travelers at night. “Ignis fatuus” literally means “the foolish fire” and is so named because anyone who follows such a light is foolish. (The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits by Rosemary Ellen Guiley)

Apparently these “spook lights” or “ghost lights” actually do appear in several locations across the country. The dominant theory blames them on a phenomenon called the “piezo-electric effect” whereby quartz deposits, placed under extreme pressure generate en electric charge that appears as lights close to the ground. There are some major holes in this theory but it’s the only real scientific explanation that comes close. Other less empirical speculations chalk up the lights to the lanterns of deceased railroad workers. I prefer that one.

So what does any of this have to do with an illustrator’s blog? Not too sure about that. Maybe it describes the illusory nature of digital art forms. Maybe it’s just a way to keep from taking myself too seriously. Maybe it’s about the ephemeral nature of creativity. Or maybe it’s just about so much swamp gas. You decide and let me know.

3 thoughts on “Only so much swamp gas”

  1. Nice entry. Good research, too. Found the piece explaining the piezoelectric effect helpful for an article I’m writing. Do you mind if I list this page as a source, for just that bit of theory? Found much on basic piezoelectric function, but nothing on how it fit in with “ghost lights” except for your page. Really good artwork on our site, too, by the way!

  2. Really good artwork on YOUR site, too, by the way, I meant. I might mention the site at the end of the article, too, unless you mind. Thanks!

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